A wise man once described alcohol as the cause of and answer to all of life’s problems. It improves so many things in life: hot chocolate, watching movies, surviving a paralyzing polar vortex. But it’s possible that alcohol’s greatest potential is realized in the kitchen.

For reasons relating to its chemical makeup, alcohol is a great way to transform other ingredients or infuse new flavor into a dish—you just have to know how to unlock its magic. To help you out, we have compiled this handy guide to cooking with all sorts of booze, from absinthe to whiskey.

Read our handy primer, and you’ll come away with an understanding of the properties of different beers, wines, and spirits, and how they can be utilized in the kitchen. We’ve also rounded a slew of fantastic recipes—from beef Bourguignon to bananas Foster—to try out at home.

Learn how to incorporate more booze into your diet, and become a better home-cook in the process. It’s a win-win.